DreamWorks definitely has a questionable track record in my mind when it comes to animated features. I absolutely love some of their films (Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Chicken Run) but I have also been extremely bored and even annoyed with others (Shark Tale, Bee Movie, Turbo). I still try to go into seeing every film I see with a totally open mind, hoping (as just happened with me for The LEGO Movie) to be pleasantly blown away. That said, my Mr. Peabody & Sherman experience was neither Shark Tale nor Shrek, but right in the middle around Megamind.
Before walking into the theater, I’d seen a little concept work for Mr. Peabody and Sherman and heard a lot of Bullwinkle fans eagerly awaiting this revisit to the classic cartoon franchise. For sure, there was lots to be impressed by, from the animation to the voice acting (Ty Burell was very enjoyable) but there was a lot wanting in other areas like story and character development. The movie centers around Mr. Peabody’s invention, the WABAC, and the ridiculous antics that ensue from its usage. The other main character, Penny, is extremely unlikable from the get-go and though a relationship between her and Sherman is forced throughout, I never found myself empathizing with her character at all.
Mr. Peabody is very charming and interesting, but the relationship between he and Sherman also feels a bit awkward—beyond just their differences in species. I’m not denigrating the entire plot—the way that time travel is handled is very fun and actually quite well thought out. The adherence to the classic cartoon canon seems to be pretty good as well, although I’m not an ardent enough fan to say that authoritatively. The transition of the characters to 3D was done masterfully and the time traveling animation is stunning. There was a bit too much poop humor for my liking, though, and some borderline offensive license taken with historical figures. It had a pretty good opening weekend and I’m sure young kids will find all the action scenes and fart jokes exceedingly entertaining.
Overall, I’d say check this film out, but maybe wait for a matinée or even DVD. It’s good, but it’s not $12 a ticket good.